In this podcast (#308) and blog, I am going to explain the difference between thoughts and memories, as this is a question I get a lot, and there seems to be quite a bit of confusion surrounding the topic!
We experience events and circumstances all the time—this is what it means to be immersed in life. We respond and react to events all day long and sort them into experiences while we sleep. This is what I call our “mind-in-action”, which makes a product: a thought. A thought is a real physical thing made of proteins and chemicals that occupies mental real estate in the brain as a tree-like structure on our neurons, and as gravitational fields in the mind, as well as in DNA in the body.
These thoughts look like trees, and, like a tree, are made of roots and branches. These are our memories—the “root” and “branch” memories. The thought itself is the concept, or the big idea. Inside the thought are the embedded memories. There can be any number of memories, thousands even, in one thought, just as there are hundreds or even thousands of branches and roots on a tree.
What all this means is that a thought tree is literally built into the brain as you use your mind in response to your experiences, or in other words, as you think, feel and choose in response to life. This means we as humans literally have trillions of thoughts, and how we build them and use them to function is what we talk about as memory or thought formation. For example, the thought could be “I am concerned about a family member”. There will be hundreds or perhaps thousands of memories related to this thought. The thought is the big picture, and the details of the thought are the memories.
There are three types of memories in a thought:
- Informational memories, which are all the details: the particulars, facts, data, associations, links, and so on associated with that thought. These are like the branches on a thought tree.
- Emotional memories, which are the feelings associated with the informational memories. These are like the leaves on the branches of a thought three.
- Physical memories, which are the physical embodiments of the sensations experienced at the time the thought was built. These are coupled with the emotional memories and informational memories.
Using the analogy of a tree, the thought is the big concept: the whole tree with the branches, leaves and roots. The roots are the source, the origin; for example, the book you are reading, the conversation you are having, this podcast you are listening to, and so on. The branches and leaves are how you interpret the information from your unique perspective, and how you will use the information (how it will manifest in your communication and behavior).
For more information on thoughts and memories, listen to my podcast (#308), and check out my latest book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and my app Neurocycle. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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2:30 What is a thought?
2:45, 5:30, 10:00 What are memories?
3:30 How thoughts grow
4:00, 8:10 Thoughts are like trees with roots & branches, which are memories
5:50 What happens when a thought is activated
8:20, 13:30 How your unique way of thinking shapes your memories
13:00 Whatever you think about the most grows!
13:40 The three types of memories
16:00 Memories as data & perceptions
19:25, 28:00 How thoughts with their memories impact our brain, mind & body
23:00 How toxic thoughts impact our overall wellbeing
29:00 What does it mean to recall a memory?
29:50 Memories are limitless
30:15 How many thoughts do we think in a day?
This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.